.... there are risks associated with any medical procedure, including vaccinations. But vaccinations are among the safest things one can do for oneself and the community. The benefits far outweigh the risks, the science is clear on that. Most of the folk that oppose vaccinations do so out of unfounded fears, i.e. gut reactions, not rational reflection of the facts. Instead, they are swayed by the likes of Ms. McCarthy or Mr. Wakefield that there is some sort of giant medical conspiracy. It is precisely this sort of ignorance why more diseases like polio have not gone the way of smallpox, i.e. been eradicated in the wild. In the case of polio, it's thanks to nutty preachers in the affected remaining hotspots making similarly dreary claims re: the polio vaccine.
I attribute the willingness of parents to take a chance with herd immunity to the fact that they haven't themselves seen the effects of polio, whooping cough, etc. in the community around them. There is a reason that in years past people gladly lined up for polio vaccinations - they'd seen the impact, could better trade off the miniscule risk (especially with the post-Cutter-incident monitoring) with the benefits of not having dead, disfigured, or severely disabled children. Indeed, one of the biggest impacts of vaccination programs is the serious reduction in schools for the deaf, dumb, and blind.
Ironically, having rejected comparatively perfectly safe vaccination options, parents seem to have no issues with then putting all the interventionist methods to use to save their children if they do fall sick. I.e. take them to the hospital, operate, perform lots of heroic work to save the child... all of which would not have been necessary if they hadn't blindly followed quacks advice re: vaccinations. And that's what amazes me, the quacks of the world who promote anti-vaccination messages have yet to prove any causal link between MMR and/or thimerosal with autism, yet they stick to this piece of faith, not unlike the folk who will follow cult religions. It's pity for the kids, they have no one looking out for their interests.
Last but not least, what bothers me most about refusing vaccinations is that there will always be some members of the community that have to rely on herd immunity because their own immune systems are not fully functional, they are undergoing immuno-suppressing therapy, or they are allergic to some of the proteins inherent in the current manufacturing processes for most vaccines. Additionally, no vaccine is 100% effective - so depending on the ability of the virus or bacteria to spread through the community, a very high immunization rate is required to protect everyone in the herd, immunized or not.
I hope that some day the likes of Ms. McCarthy or Mr. Wakefield will own up to their hubris, character assassination, innuendo, etc. and apologize to the world not only for disrupting one of the most successful medical programs of our times, but also for killing, disfiguring, and traumatizing gaggles of children needlessly with their panic-mongering. This is not unlike shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre - especially in the case of Mr. Wakefield where key aspects of his 'research' were later found to be faked, massive conflicts of interest were not disclosed, and interpretations were drawn without the benefit of facts.
For anyone interested in the subject, I highly recommend the books written by Dr. Offit on the matter, especially "Autisms False Prophets", and "Deadly Choices". He details the characters of the anti-vaccination movements quite nicely and shows in reference after reference what the real impacts of vaccine refusal are.